Search underway after Japanese F-35 fighter disappears during night training mission


Search and rescue teams found wreckage from a crashed Japanese F-35 stealth fighter in the Pacific Ocean close to northern Japan, as efforts to find the missing pilot continued, authorities said on Wednesday.

The British Ministry of Defence has shown its concern as it has plans to purchase a total of 138 F-35 fighter jets developed by Lockheed Martin, according to Reuters.

Defense officials said that the remains of the tail of the F-35A, which belongs to the Air Self-Defense Force's Misawa air base in the prefecture, were recovered from the surrounding ocean of the crash site on the night of April 9.

This is only the second F-35 crash since the aircraft completed flight testing-a Marine Corps F-35B crashed in SC in September of 2018.

The plane and its pilot, a man in his 40s, went missing about 135 kilometers off the Japanese coast Tuesday after departing Misawa Air Base on the northeastern corner of Honshu Island, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force said in a statement.

There was no word yet on the fate of the one pilot onboard the jet, Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said.

"We'll need to cooperate with the USA forces and I believe arrangements are being made", Iwaya said, adding that the cause of the incident would have to be determined.

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But Japan has grounded its 12 remaining F-35s. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd assembles the aircraft at a plant near Nagoya in central Japan. The pilot had 3,200 hours of flight time, with 60 hours on the F-35, the official said.

"The Defence Science and Technology Agency's (DSTA) assessment is that now is an opportune time to put in Singapore's request", Minister Ng said, noting that the price of the F-35 has been "steadily falling" due to "healthy orders" from the United States and 10 other countries.

Oslo has taken delivery of nine of the 52 F-35s it expects to order from Lockheed, and expects to receive six more aircraft this year. An F-35A squadron with 80 personnel was formed last month at the Misawa base. In December, Japan announced its plans to place an order for 105 more F-35s from the United States on top of the 42 it had already bought - a deal which would make Japan the largest global buyer of the troubled plane.

The crash was the first of the A variant of the fifth-generation fighter.

A U.S. Defense Department spokesman said the Pentagon was aware of the reports but declined to comment.

"We'll do our best to rescue the missing pilot", he said.

The last time this happened the plane crashed near the Marine Corps Air Station Beaufort, South Carolina.